Disclaimer: I am a Reebok ambassador and this article contains affiliate links.
Rocking a six-pack isn’t the only reason to start upping your core workouts.
Your core is essential in every exercise you perform. Not only do you need strong core muscles inside the gym, but this humble body part is incorporated into almost every movement of the body.
Tight, toned abs may look amazing, but the health benefits of a strong core are even better. Your core is your body’s powerhouse - facilitating movement, housing your inner organs and central nervous system, plus enhancing balance and stability to reduce the risk of falls and injury.
In fact, a strong, flexible core has many benefits and underpins almost everything you do:
- Weak core muscles contribute to slouching. Having a strong core lessens the wear and tear on the spine and allows you to stand straighter, breathe more deeply, and feel more confident.
Balance and stability
- Your core stabilises your entire body, allowing you to move in any direction and stand in one spot without losing balance. Having a strong core can lessen your risk of falling and improve your overall balance.
- A strong core can prevent injuries in exercise, as well as in everyday activities. Lifting heavy objects, bending over, twisting the wrong way - these can all result in injury if your core muscles just aren’t strong enough. When it comes to exercise, strong core muscles can help you perform proper technique, protect your body, improve your flexibility, and help you perform exercises for longer (e.g plank).
Stabilize your lower back
- Strengthening your core allows your lower back to also get stronger and healthier, which makes you less likely to suffer from back pain. A strong core will also protect your back muscles when you are lifting weights or heavy objects.
So, how do you engage your core?
A common mistake people I see people make when trying to engage their core is sucking their stomach in. Core engagement is about bracing the core, so instead of sucking your stomach in, you need to focus on pulling your navel up and in towards your spine.
Imagine feeling as if you're about to be punched in the gut. That 'brace' feeling resembles the feeling of filling out your diaphragm and tightening your midsection like a brick to prepare for the blow. Your body knows this is the ideal way to protect yourself from that punch. The core naturally engages right before coughing as well.
When you ‘brace’ your abs, they should feel tightened but you should still be able to move and breathe as normal.
Practice engaging your core:
- Lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent and feet flat on the ground.
- Press your lower back into the ground so that your tailbone tips up slightly.
- Inhale deeply. Once your belly is full of air, clench your abdominal muscles.
- Use your ab muscles to pull your belly button up and in towards your spine, as if you’re ‘zipping up’ your abs.
- Take a few breaths, relax, and repeat the exercise.
Remember, comfort is key. I never want to feel restricted or like I can’t breathe when performing core exercises so I always recommend wearing loose, comfortable clothing that assists your body to breathe and move easily. My go-to’s are always a pair of Reebok Lux Tights or Beyond The Sweat Leggings that allow me to move freely teamed with my Nano X1.
I’ve put together a quick ab workout to help strengthen your core. Let me know if you give it a try!
Equipment-Free Core Workout
Repeat x 2
- 20 x Ankle Taps
- 20 x Bicycle Crunches
- 20 x Scissor Kicks
- 10 x Oblique Crunches (each side)
- 1 Minute x Plank
If you're looking for more core-strengthening workouts then join me over on THE BOD app.